January 26th, 2009

Worst. Funeral. Ever.

I am a very critical person. It has been said that I would criticize a buzzard on a shit-wagon. “That bird don’t know crap about shit” I might opine, chortling mercilessly at the aforementioned carrion eater’s apparent discomfort.

So when I say: “Worst. Funeral. Ever,” internets, you’re probably thinking that’s plenty small of me on a scale from one to big. Afterall, what constitutes a bad funeral?

Getting the deceased’s name wrong. Repeatedly. For starters.

Mumbling through the mass; complaining that the soloist will be singing at the graveside; using a Christmas reading b/c Christmas is “about life” – yes, father, and we’re at a funeral, which is very much about the other thing. You don’t have to read from the book of Lot’s Wife per se, but something a little less cribbed from recent masses and a little more appropriate to the situation wouldn’t run amiss – even the hymn was atonal and off-putting.

Now, in the interest of fairness, this guy was the incoming priest and it was literally his first week on the job. I’m sure I’d be a little flummoxed if my first job was burying a child too. On the other hand, he’s an older priest and I daresay this isn’t his first parish. So bad at his job was he, I wouldn’t trust him to deliver the “please rise” part for his mealy-mouthed delivery.

I mean, getting the name wrong, repeatedly is a little beyond simple nerves. It’s the singlemost crucial detail, literally the least he could do would be to get the name right.

Amid his inarticulate rambling, the priest tried to make some poorly annunciated point about how Curtis’s suffering wasn’t part of God’s plan but rather mankind sometimes just had it rough, but God was there and was in charge, just not of this particular suffering, so take comfort just don’t go asking “why” a whole lot, because....

Dude, that is some dizzying logic even for a man who represents dizzying logic for a living.

Now, none of this interrupted our grief or gave us any less closure, necessarily. That speaks more of the family than this guy. But really at a time when you need everything to go right, it was a weird sequence of things to go wrong. A bad day made slightly worse by the gross incompetence of Mother Church.

More in the heart-breaking sense of gone wrong than the rest of the above: while graveside the soloist couldn’t get through the “A” in Amazing Grace without choking up and sobbing. This prompted about half of us to have a go at singing to get her started, which was really quite nice until you realize only a third of us knew there’s a second verse and a third again who know the words to it.

But I don’t want to meet the person who’s heart and voice doesn’t break at the graveside of a six year old.